Written by Community Outreach .on in
Washington DC has its “Capital Fourth”. Boston has its "Pops" and outstanding fireworks over the Charles River from its Esplanade. Here in West Central Montana, we celebrate the holiday in an equally patriotic, if less extravagant manner. Each 4th of July morning, for as many years as I can remember, folks gather at the Community Hall in Condon, Montana to share a pancake breakfast. Then, we mill around, greeting neighbors and visitors from throughout the Swan Valley until around 10 AM. At that time all kinds of vehicles, firefighting equipment, and backcountry horsemen begin gathering at the volunteer fire department to line up for the annual parade. Of course, there’s only one road through Condon – Highway 83. So, at the appointed time of 11 AM, the County Sheriff shuts down the state highway for roughly a quarter mile and an equally long string of local celebrities with all of their accompanying regalia begin the march from the Fire Station to the Community Library. Once there, everyone lines up for huckleberry ice cream for as long as it lasts. This year, the Swan Valley Historical Society and Museum, a Next Exit History, partner also debut a new addition to its museum site. The Fred Messing “Trapper Cabin” resided for many years above Lindbergh Lake (Elbow Lake until 1929, when it was renamed Lindbergh Lake in honor of Charles Lindbergh who visited the area two years earlier.) The “Trapper’s Cabin” was recently relocated to the museum grounds and outfitted as it would have been during the 1920s. With the addition of this structure, the museum now includes the main exhibit building and 5 additional structures and outdoor exhibits. All of the buildings are interpreted on the grounds and, digitally, in Next Exit History. Significantly, the museum has been able to meet some of its Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements by digitally filming the structure interiors and posting them on the Next Exit History platform. So, if you’re traveling through Western Montana this summer and want to take a scenic detour north on Highway 83, stop by the Upper Swan Valley Museum and take a look around. And, if you happen to do that next Fourth of July morning, expect to have a slight delay as Smokey Bear and his friends take a stroll down the road.